Sport: PNG Palais look long-term after Oceania 7s success

3:48 pm on 14 November 2018

With the first goal successfully ticked off, Papua New Guinea women's sevens coach Paul Tietjens is now developing a five month plan to get the team ready to compete on the world stage.

The Palais were outclassed 33-5 by hosts Fiji in the playoff for third place at the Oceania Sevens in Suva last weekend but had already done enough to qualify for the Sydney leg of the World Series and the World Series Qualifier in Hong Kong.

Papua New Guinea finished fourth at the 2018 Oceania Sevens, earning them trips to Sydney and Hong Kong.

Papua New Guinea finished fourth at the 2018 Oceania Sevens, earning them trips to Sydney and Hong Kong. Photo: Supplied

Paul Tietjens was only appointed to the job a few weeks ago and was encouraged by the team's first up showing.

"They basically put a squad together from the World Cup in July and then they sent a squad of 15 players over to Sydney and I basically met them at the airport and we were in camp for a week before heading to the Oceania Championship," he said.

"Our goal moving forward when I first met them two weeks ago was to qualify for the Sydney Sevens and then the World Series Qualifiers and to do that we had to come out with fourth place or higher and come out as the top tier two nation so it was definitely very pleasing with the result, especially with the calibre of teams there with New Zealand, Australia and Fiji but, in saying that, still a very good place to start from in regards to our own performance."

Paul Tietjens spent the last year and a half working as the strength and conditioning trainer for the Manu Samoa Sevens team, under the tutelage of his father, sevens coaching legend Sir Gordon Tietjens.

But the former head coach of the Bay of Plenty men's sevens team in New Zealand is excited about the chance to prove himself in the international sevens coaching arena.

"Obviously the coaching background runs in the family and obviously my father had a huge amount to do with that and I look up to him in a number of ways so I really enjoy the idea of trying to better a player's performance and improve their ability in the sevens game," said Tietjens the younger.

Paul Tietjens gets his message across during the Oceania Sevens.

Paul Tietjens gets his message across during the Oceania Sevens. Photo: Supplied

"Sevens is a great game and players are allowed to express themselves at club, provincial and international level," he said.

"To be able to see this job come up a couple of weeks ago and get my first taste of international coaching or potentially qualify a team for World Series stage and events it was definitely an easy job to apply for and to take that on was a great opportunity and I really appreciate what the Papua New Guinea Rugby Union has given me the chance to do with this team."

Now that he has an extended period of almost three months to prepare the team for their third straight Sydney Sevens appearance, Tietjens is looking forward to having a lot more time with the players.

He plans to head to Port Moresby later this month and is already mapping out a plan for the weeks ahead.

"Only having them for two weeks [ahead of the Oceania Championships] the main objective for us was to start playing some pretty good sevens and obviously to challenge some of those teams that are on the circuit and put some structures in place to allow us to get better every game and every training that we took part in," he said.

"And we will look to play in a couple of tournaments leading into Sydney (at the start of February) and then into Hong Kong, which is in April.

"I guess they will be invitational tournaments and club tournaments to give us some much-needed game-time because to be good as sevens you've got to be training it and playing it.

"So we will have a number of camps and tournaments on certain dates leading into Sydney and Hong Kong, just to make sure obviously we're adhering to the training programmes and we are giving ourselves the best possible chance to get into the best possible condition we can moving into those important tournaments."

The PNG Palais failed to win a game at the Sydney 7s, won by hosts Australia.

PNG failed to win a game at the 2018 Sydney Sevens. Photo: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby